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TrustPower opens Snowtown Wind Farm

2 Nov 2008

New Zealand based TrustPower has today held the official public opening of Stage 1 of its first Australian wind farm, located at Snowtown 170km north of Adelaide.  The $220 million project, using 47 Suzlon S88 turbines, is expected to produce in excess of 380 GWh of electricity each year, saving more than 345,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emission annually, and powering the equivalent of 70,000 average Australian homes.

The public opening, which took the form of a community event with food and produce stalls, entertainment, displays and public wind farm bus tours, saw the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and permanent wind turbine blade and information display in Snowtown, by the Premier of South Australia the Honourable Mike Rann and TrustPower Chairman Mr Bruce Harker.

Other distinguished guests included the Federal Member for Grey Mr Rowan Ramsey, the State Member for Frome the Honourable Rob Kerin, the Mayor of Wakefield Mr. James Maitland, Dan Hansen the CEO of Suzlon Energy Australia, and members of the TrustPower board and management team including Chief Executive Keith Tempest.

The Snowtown wind farm site spreads more than 20km along the Hummocks and Barunga ranges, allowing for significant future expansion.

The blades each of the 47 Suzlon S88 turbines, which have a hub height of 80 metres, a rotor diameter of 88 metres,  and a maximum blade tip height of 124 metres, sweep an area of 1.5 acres to produce a total peak output of 98.7 MW.

Construction of Stage 1 of the Snowtown Windfarm involved 350 escorted truck journeys from Adelaide, the use of  7km of high tension cables for anchor footings, 5000 cubic metres of concrete, 8,000 tonne of steel for towers, 27km of underground cable and 18km of overhead 33kv power line, with 15,000 tonnes total weight of cargo transported to the site.

Payback for the "embodied energy" for the project (turbine manufacture and all construction) is approximately five months.

During its operation, the project will inject some $1.2 million annually into the areas 10km around the small Snowtown rural community, through royalty payments to landowners, maintenance and local services, and TrustPower's support for community projects.

TrustPower Chief Executive Keith Tempest says the opening of the Snowtown marks another important milestone for TrustPower, which has a portfolio of 100 percent sustainable hydro and wind generation facilities.

"We are proud of our investments in sustainable generation in New Zealand, which include 35 hydro facilities and the country's largest wind farm, plus plans for two further hydro facilities and two further wind farms now having been granted resource consents. We see this as the first of what we hope will be significant further investments in Australian wind energy, the income from which will complement that from New Zealand and provide increased income security in times of difficult economic or climatic conditions, as well as making a worthwhile contribution to combating emissions induced climate change".

"The wind farm will help develop a positive new image for the town," said the Chairperson of the Snowtown Community Management Committee, Paul McCormack.

Snowtown has struggled to shake off the global notoriety it received due to the 'bodies in the barrel" murders nearly a decade ago, while many local farmers have also had to battle drought and uncertain grain prices.

"The local community has taken a strong interest in the project, and appreciates it being named the Snowtown Wind Farm," Mr McCormack said. "It's a good news story for this community."

Mr McCormack is particularly enthusiastic about the 44 metre wind turbine blade which is on permanent display in the middle of town.

"It is a fantastic tourist attraction and it allows people to stop off in Snowtown and get a sense of the
turbines up close."

Mr McCormack, who has one of turbines on his land, said lightheartedly: "Every morning I walk to the chook house to collect an egg for breakfast, and I look up at my turbine on the hill to ensure that it's still spinning. I think it's a beautiful beast, and it makes me greener and greener each day."
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